Playing Video Games as a Quadriplegic
I’ve been thinking of topics to write about during this “Stay at Home Policy” from the coronavirus outbreak. We are now on week 7 of this historical worldwide event. The time at home has many people looking for things to do other than watch TV. Now, I do realize in the paralyzed world each injury can be different; there can be same level injuries but with different mobility. I thought I’d share my son’s experience playing video games; maybe some of you played video games before injury and after injury haven’t tried to play again, or you don’t know what games to try. Zack was only 15 when he broke his neck at the beach becoming a C-4 quadriplegic. Being a teenager, one of his favorite things to do was to play video games. As his mom, I used to hate how much time he wasted on them. Zack was either outside hanging out with friends or gaming. He was really into them and apparently good from what his friends and siblings told me, although I never took the time or interest to understand the games he played. I just knew when his team lost because of the uproar of emotions!
After his injury, I would have given my life savings for him be able to move his hands, wrists, and fingers and play those games now. I’m not quite sure how long it took for Zack to try again as a now paralyzed person. Zack grew up playing video games with his best friend Dylan, who at the time of injury had recently moved to New Mexico. As serious gaming buddies, I’d hear them talking back and forth and it sounded like they were speaking a foreign language. Zack’s accident happened on May 31, 2010 and that December we flew Dylan out for a visit during Christmas break. This was only 6 months after Zack’s major life change. He could no longer play his favorite games like Halo or Call of Duty on Xbox. They required the use of quick finger movement and the ability to hold the controller pressing multiple buttons at the same time. The boys figured out other optional games on the computer such as Clash of Clans, Clash Royale and World of Warcraft. I have a great photo of the two boys gaming again together. It was such a wonderful sight to see and I didn’t care if they stayed up all night long. I was so happy to see Zack back in his element talking, laughing, strategizing, losing and celebrating the victories of winning.
It’s been almost a decade since Zack broke his neck, so much has happened in that time. He finished High School, went to college taking him 5 years to complete his BA degree in Human Services. He is now in his second year of grad school getting a master’s degree in Counseling. There were many times that video games became obsolete to Zack. Homework and his schedule were the main priority and sometimes would take up a lot of his time. During this COVID-19 quarantine, he has picked up gaming once again, playing games like Call of Duty on his touch screen phone. Touch screen technology came out around the year he was injured and has been one of the best things ever!
Recently Zack posted on social media asking if anyone else played this game. It turns out two other quadriplegics messaged him and they formed a team, not only do they have this game in common, they all have a story and understanding of how it feels to have their lives changed in an instant, just as Zack’s had. No one knows these three are paralyzed and apparently, they are a good team.
Also, during these weeks at home, Zack and his fiancé Bree borrowed a Wii system and tried different games until they found a couple he could play. Zack likes the Wii Sports and it reminds me of way back we had a Wii system. We literally taped the controller to his hand since he could move his forearm a bit so all he had to do was slightly move his arm and his character would move in the game.
I am now a video game supporter. I have drastically changed my view, what use to annoy me I now see as a way to interact with others, enjoy something fun, use your brain strategizing and teamwork. Give them a try if have not already.
About Amber Collie
My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured I had a child in Preschool, Elementary, Jr. High and High School. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.